Hikers who prefer simplicity–and boundless capacity–loved the Speed 40, which boasts few do-dads other than a gigantic main compartment. Unlike other packs' curved back panels, the Speed's flat, foam-padded back doesn't cut into the interior space, so helmets, cook sets and other bulky items slid easily inside. The removable foam panel doubles as a bivy pad, while stiffer suspension components–a plastic frame sheet paired with a V-shaped rod–shunts the payload onto the thickly-padded hipbelt.
The top-loader's few features are all climbing-oriented: The front panel includes a crampon patch of reinforced nylon and haul loops made of webbing encased in plastic. Despite its simple design, the Speed proved surprisingly stable; one tester reported that, "Even skiing icy crust, this pack never threw me off-balance." But when stuffed to the max with 28 pounds, the back panel bowed slightly and created pressure points on testers' spines. Very small loads tended to slide and shift around somewhat, even with the compression straps fully cinched. And the S/M size proved too big for short-torsoed testers.